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A team of researchers from the U.K., the Netherlands and the U.S. has found that echolocation in blind people is more sensitive than previously thought. In their paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the group describes experiments they conducted with blind echolocation experts and what they learned from them.
Bats famously use echolocation to navigate and to capture prey—but echolocation in humans is not widely understood. Some blind people use it to identify nearby objects. They make sharp sounds with their mouths and listen for the echoes. This skill is useful for identifying where a chair in a room is, for example, or ducking to avoid bumping into a low door frame. But, as the researchers with this new effort note, very little is actually known about echolocation in humans. To learn more, the team enlisted the assistance of eight blind volunteers who had developed their echolocation skills to expert levels.
Experiments - Volunteers - Plate - Affixed - Pole
The experiments consisted of asking the volunteers to locate a plate affixed to a pole in an otherwise empty and soundproof room Each of the volunteers was also fitted with microphones near their ears to record the sounds produced by the subjects and the sounds that were echoed back to them. For each run, a single volunteer held their head steady (normally they swing their heads as they walk to better hear echoes) and attempted to locate the...
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